Purloined iPhone, Part XXVI


Well, it looks like the case of the purloined iPhone is in the home stretch. The San Mateo District Attorney's office has filed misdemeanor charges of misappropriation of lost property against Brian Hogan, the man who found a prototype of the iPhone 4 in a Redwood City beer hall, but has declined to prosecute Gizmodo editor Jason Chen for purchasing the phone. A third person, Sage Wallower, who apparently acted as a go-between and brokered the transfer of the device, is also being charged with misappropriation of lost property and possession of stolen property.


I'm not surprised that the DA has backed down, first, because the search conducted on Chen's apartment bordered on outrageous, given the clauses of California's shield law, and second, because he has a history of ducking cases that have become hot potatoes in the media. The mooks who found the phone probably ought to walk as well, but California isn't a "finders, keepers" state, so we'll see what happens when they go to trial; their arraignment's scheduled for Aug. 25, but if the San Mateo courts are in the same fix as the courts in SF , the actual trial might not take place until next year.As egregious as the search of Chen's home office was, I'm saving today's Two-Minute Hate for Apple CEO Steve Jobs. As the report from the Chronicle notes, he accused Chen of extortion; presumably he was referring to the exchange of e-mails that took place when Apple learned that Gizmodo had obtained the iPhone prototype. Gawker Media, which owns Gizmodo and employs Chen, responded to Jobs' demand for the return of the prototype by requesting a letter from Apple that affirmed its ownership of the device. The letter having been sent and received, the phone was returned to Apple with a minimum of delay.

I'm sure that Jobs was furious that Gizmodo's editor didn't snap to attention and return the phone immediately; after all, this is a man whom mere mortals usually stumble over themselves to oblige. But I have unwelcome news for the Dear Leader: it's not extortion to ask for written documentation when ownership of a device is in question; it's just a paper trail.

Jobs seems to think that it's perfectly normal to defame the people who give him free publicity, and then wonders why some of us don't tongue bathe his company's products. Speaking only for myself, I'm happy to suggest that he can, cordially, get bent.